Writing Realistic Romantic Relationships

There are a couple of hard and fast rules for writing romance genre that you need to keep in mind if you want to write category Romance.

  • Anything market as Romance must have a Happily Ever After/Happy For Now ending. Anything less than that, and you will eaten alive by romance readers.
  • Unless you are using the Fated Mate trope you need to build a realistic relationship.

Realistic relationships are built on a couple of things: shared interests, trust, reliability, loyalty, compatibility, physical interest, chemistry, and enhancement (in which being together makes each person stronger).

Shared Interest: What do we have in common?
Trust: Do I trust you with my secrets, my life, and my body?
Reliability: If I trust you, will you be there when I need you?
Loyalty: If we run into trouble, will you side with me or them?
Compatibility: Are we on the same page, working towards the same goals, and do we have the same values?
Physical Interest: Do we find each other attractive?
Chemistry: Are we happy together? 
Enhancement: Do we make each other better people when we are together?

A lot of authors try to get by with physical interest (He’s so sexy I can’t keep my hands off him!) and it tends to fall flat. One, “I can’t stop myself!” is a self-control issue and, two, no one wants to finish a book and think to themself, “They’re not going to survive the first flu together let alone stay married happily ever after.”

Shared interests get a couple to pay attention to each other. Trust, loyalty, and reliability develop with friendship.

Compatibility covers religion, ideologies, future goals, ect… you need these to make a couple look like they’ll work out.

Physical interest and chemistry change a platonic bond into a romantic one.

Enhancement is what sells the romance. It’s the idea that being in this relationship makes everyone involved better & happier. If you want to write an abusive relationship, enhancement is the thing that’s missing. The characters may trust each other and be attracted, but they are worse being in the relationship than they would be alone.


The trope you’re writing determines how these stages develop…

In Enemies-To-Lovers the characters start with chemistry or physical interest, then common ground, and trust is last.

In Friend-to-Lovers you start with common interests and trust, and then wind up at physical attraction.

In Fake Engagement you start with Shared Interest, move to Reliability and Loyalty, Trust, then Physical Interest, Chemistry, and Enhancement.

And so on…

Stages of Love: Lost and Rough-Hewn Spears
Stages of Love: Attraction and Rejection
Stages of Love: Commitment and Happily Ever After
Writing Realistic Relationships (the basics)




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